Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in
The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
The Communist government of the Soviet Union had pressed for diplomatic recognition by the United States since 1917, only to be rebuffed by a succession of Republican administrations. Things changed, however, when Franklin Roosevelt became president in 1933. Increased trade was an attractive possibility in the midst of the Great Depression. Also, with the expansion of Japan into Manchuria and Hitler's rise to power in Germany, an official relationship with the U.S.S.R. was seen as a beneficial balance of power. An excerpt from The Post of Nov. 18, 1933:
Normal relations exist between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.Sixteen years were bridged in the White House study at 10 minutes before 12 o'clock on the night of November 16, when President Roosevelt and Commissar Litvinoff exchanged a series of communications.
The announcement came at 4:14 o'clock yesterday afternoon in the President's office, where some 200 tense newspapermen waited for the climax of an historic 10 days. Less than two hours later Roosevelt was on his way south for a fortnight's vacation at Warm Springs, Ga.
Litvinoff is expected to remain in Washington several days, presumably to talk further details.
In announcing the establishment of relations, President Roosevelt also stated that the name of William C. Bullitt, special assistant to the Secretary of State, would be submitted to Moscow for the post of first Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. There is no doubt that Moscow will find Bullitt "persona gratissima."
First Soviet Ambassador to Washington has not yet been announced officially, but it will be recalled that on his way over here Litvinoff indicated Alexander Troyanovsky, former Ambassador to Tokyo, as the likeliest choice.
Far-reaching were the understandings reached between the Chief Executive of the greatest country in the world and the foreign minister of the largest. The implications for the future are incalculable.
Stated briefly, the five letters of Roosevelt and the seven communications of Litvinoff dispose of the past and clear the way for the realization of mutual benefits in the future. They accomplish this task in a masterly manner. The United States concedes nothing of any real significance and the Soviet Union avoids the risk of international embarrassments. No hallowed precedents are destroyed and no loopholes for serious disagreements are left open. ...
The elements of a political and economic nonaggression pact are tucked away in the exchange of letters on propaganda. After disposing of the main topic, the letter goes on to declare the fixed policy of the Soviet Union to be refraining "from any act ... liable in any way whatsoever to injure the tranquility, prosperity, order or security of the United States, its territories or possessions, and in particular from any act tending to incite or encourage armed intervention."